An outdoor bar is perfect for entertaining a crowd, or just enjoying summer living with your family.
Bar height seating is also a great solution for gatherings of all kinds, because it’s versatile for sitting, standing, serving, and storage, and helps to keep food and drinks out of the reach of friendly pets.
DIY outdoor bars are also easy to make, using a wide range of materials, and in projects ranging from easy and beginner-friendly to more complex, advanced building projects.
A DIY outdoor bar can be as simple and rustic as you want, or become the anchor for an entire outdoor kitchen. Let’s look at some ways to build, use, and expand an outdoor bar.
- DIY Outdoor Bar
- DIY Outdoor Bar Accessories
DIY Outdoor Bar
DIY Outdoor Bar: Just the Basics
At its most stripped-down, an outdoor bar can simply be an elevated table for storing and serving drinks and snacks. Here are some simple DIY outdoor bars that are basic and beginner-friendly.
DIY Outdoor Bar from Wood Pallets
Wood pallets just happen to be the perfect height for a small outdoor bar. Instead of breaking down pallets to re-use the wood, you can use them as-is to create a fast and simple bar.
For this project, take two wood pallets and stand them up on their sides. Make sure they are level, then add four pieces of 1×2” wood trimmed to length, to hold them together and stabilize them in the upright position.
A piece of wood at the top and bottom of both sides will hold the wood pallets together and make them function as a single piece. You may also want to add casters or leveling feet to the bottom to keep the pallets off the ground.
Then add a piece of wood (or, even better, slate or stone) to the top to make an attractive bar top. Paint or varnish it, and you’re done!
DIY Outdoor Murphy Bar
If space is an issue, and you want the luxury of an outdoor bar on a balcony or small patio, consider creating a DIY “Murphy” bar. Using wood pallets or reclaimed wood, or even a pre-made fold-out table, simply create a shallow cabinet with a fold-down shelf or small table.
Make sure that it is hung securely, and weatherproof your material as necessary. Complete the scene with a couple folding stools, and you have a cute, versatile, outdoor-friendly DIY bar ready for any occasion.
DIY Outdoor Bar Upgrades
Depending on your space, ambitions, and abilities, there are dozens of ways to upgrade your outdoor bar. Here are just a few ideas.
DIY Outdoor Bar with Storage
A professional bartender has ready access to beer, wine, liquor, mixers, and soft drinks. They also have various equipment for mixing and pouring drinks, and a wide range of different glassware for different cocktails.
They have garnishes, cocktail napkins, and may even have snacks and food items on the bar.
For your own outdoor bar, you may also want additional storage for seasonal items and special occasions. Adding cabinets, shelves, an extra work surface, and extra storage give you an outdoor bar that can work as hard as a professional one.
DIY Outdoor Bar with an Ice Chest
Unless you want to go all the way and add a refrigerator to your outdoor bar, an ice chest is the next best way to keep drinks cold and keep the party outdoors.
Adding a built-in ice chest to your outdoor bar steps up your game and creates a great festive atmosphere. The best way to do this project is to buy an existing insulated ice chest or ice bin, then create an enclosure in your bar to hold it.
Remember that the ice will melt and water will condense, so allow excess water to drain away from the chest without damaging your bar.
DIY Outdoor Bar with a Roof
Adding a roof is a great way to protect your bar (and your guests) from unexpected changes in the weather, and keep your bar area dry all year.
While a roof may seem like an ambitious project, it can be made easier by purchasing corrugated metal roof panels from your local home center. Then you simply build the frame around your existing bar, add pre-made roof panels, and use sealant to cover seams and attachment points.
A roof is also a great way to give your DIY outdoor bar some personality. You can hang lanterns or string lights, or get creative with bamboo, plants, and grasses to create a Tiki Bar look.
You may even consider adding a solar panel to provide power for your bar area. A roof protects your bar from sun, rain, and wind, and is a great way of upgrading your DIY outdoor bar.
DIY Outdoor Pub Shed
The ultimate in DIY outdoor bars is the pub shed. A pub shed lets you create your own little neighborhood bar right in your back yard, and decorate it any way you like.
You can create the feel of an Irish pub, a sports bar, a dance spot, or a beach getaway, and friends and family will find it irresistible.
A DIY pub shed can be a challenging project, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have an existing shed, it’s not difficult to clean it out and convert it into a pub. If you don’t have a shed, you can purchase shed kits or prefab sheds from a home center.
There are a few standard approaches for converting a shed into a bar, and they depend on the size of your shed, and your preference.
One common design is to create a large, wide window in the side of the shed and place a bar top at the window frame.
Guests sit on the outside, and the bartender serves from inside the window. This is a great option for small sheds, and it allows you to simply lock up the shed and protect all the contents when it’s not in use.
For an even more space-efficient design, consider using a fold-down board to cover the window: when folded up, the window (and the bar) is closed; when folded down, it creates a table surface for your guests.
The other common approach for larger sheds is to build the bar inside the shed, and use the shed itself as a mini-pub. This option usually means installing much larger doors on the shed, so they can be opened to increase the available seating area and create a more welcoming atmosphere.
A DIY pub shed is always best with electricity for lighting, music, and small bar appliances. It’s a great place to use one or two solar panels, instead of running electricity from your house, and solar power is cheaper, easier, and more DIY-friendly than ever before.
It’s also often a good idea to extend the eaves of your shed to create a larger sheltered area outside your private pub.
DIY Outdoor Bar Accessories
Your outdoor bar is a fantastic opportunity to show off your decorating skills, and make your guests feel relaxed and comfortable. Whatever your style, there are a few accessories for a DIY outdoor bar that are must-haves:
If your outdoor bar doesn’t have a roof, or if your roof is smaller than your seating area, consider creating shade for comfort.
You could use trees or vines trained on a pergola, add a patio umbrella, or put up a canopy or party tent, but creating shady spots helps to keep people comfortable on hot sunny days.
On the other hand, depending on your climate, your outdoor space may become uncomfortably cool at night. If you have the space for a fire pit, it’s a great way to add warmth and comfort on chilly evenings.
You could invest in a propane patio heater, make your own fire bowl, or use a portable fire pit but adding heat allows you to use your DIY outdoor bar for more months out of the year, and create memorable experiences with friends and family all year long.
Okay, signs aren’t a must-have, but many people choose to name their outdoor bar and have a few fun signs. Nothing says “bar” like a neon sign and signs are a very fun accessory for your private pub.
DIY outdoor bars can be simple affairs, with just a high table and a couple of stools. Or they can be fully-fledged bars, with club chairs, a wood stove, and sports on the TV.
The great thing about building your own bar is that it’s a project that can start small and get bigger every year; you don’t have to do it all at once, and your outdoor bar can grow as your imagination and skills become more ambitious.
People all around the world are building their own bars in their yards and gardens, because it’s a fun and exciting hobby for you, and fun and entertaining for your guests. There’s no reason to not start making your own DIY outdoor bar today.